I think the number one reason some people may have concerns about purchasing a drone is safety. There have been multiple stories recently about local municipalities within the United States banning drone flight, and even a story about a neighbor shooting one down.
First, please note that this blog is not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. With that said, let’s get down to some simple guidelines for folks in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), their website is here.
Note: Currently it is illegal to use your drone photography for commercial purposes. This is a big bummer for real estate agents and others that could benefit from high quality aerial photos.
Please fly your drone intelligently when first starting out. This means that you shouldn’t fly too high or in congested areas. How high should you fly it? Well, according to FAA regulations outlined by GigaOm, the FAA does not regulate the airspace below 700 feet. Just recently there was an article posted about two men who almost flew their drones intoa NYPD helicopter. Needless to say they are running into legal issues.
Don’t Fly Over Crowds (Ever)
It’s also very important to not fly over populated areas. Please understand that your drone weighs enough to kill someone if it were to crash from 1,000 feet. Users over at reddit outlined the following when interacting with people and your drone:
- keep their distance during takeoff and landing
- not talk or distract you whilst flying (or land to talk)
- not stand infront of your nice high gain antenna
- use a spotter to handle people
- use cones or bunting to restrict movement
- fly in low population areas
Additional Reading and Resources
For further education on drone flying, there are two major groups that do a great job about teaching you how to safely fly a drone:
Academy of Model Aeronautics Safety Guide (it’s only 15 pages and DEFINITELY worth the read)
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (outlines international standards for operation)
In closing, the major thing to note in all of this is to realize that your drone is not a toy. Respect it as a piece of amazing equipment that can enhance your photography, and be safe by educating yourself on proper operation. The resources and information above are a great place to start!